All proceeds go toward helping cancer patients.
Once upon a time, during the tail end of the psychedelic sixties, a program appeared that captured the imagination of children as much as the tenor of the times. Not that H.R. Pufnstuf
, which premiered on NBC in 1969, dealt with heavy topics like the Vietnam War. Instead, this colorful Sid and Marty Krofft creation mixed live action with puppetry and kept things groovy with song, dance, bad puns, trippy sets, and wacky sound effects. Like The Wizard of Oz
and "Puff the Magic Dragon," its charming innocence appealed as much to kids as to the kinds of adults who flocked to Pee-wee's Playhouse
and SpongeBob SquarePants
in later years. The story begins when Jimmy (Oliver!
's Jack Wild) is tricked by Witchiepoo (Billie Hayes) into taking a boat ride on a sunny day. Next thing he knows he's stranded on Living Island, where everything--the houses, the trees--talks. And Witchiepoo is endlessly scheming to steal Freddie, his magical golden flute (or "Fweddie" as Wild pronounces it). Pufnstuf, the island's mayor, is Jimmy's Glinda the Good Witch--as a friendly dragon with an aw-shucks accent. Throughout these 17 episodes, Jimmy and Puf are joined by Dr. Blinky, Cling and Clang, and a host of other odd, but benevolent characters. Witchiepoo meanwhile, has Orson Vulture and Seymour Spider on her (dark) side. Standout episodes include "Mechanical Boy," in which Jimmy "does the robot"--years before the dawn of disco--and "Dinner for Two Please Orson," in which Blinky's Time Machine malfunctions and Jimmy is turned into an old man--who Witchiepoo plans to marry! With H.R. Pufnstuf
, the Kroffts (Lidsville
, The Bugaloos
) combined the best qualities of the top shows of its time, like Laugh-In
and The Monkees
, and created something fresh and new that's just as relevant--and irreverent
--today. --Kathleen C. Fennessy